Chaste and chaser

Pub date November 14, 2006
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS A picture begins to develop: dating, for the chicken farmer, is turning out to be a sort of exercise in quantum romantics. Things are happening and not happening at the same time.
I’ll start out being totally, over-boilingly in love with a complete stranger, and this gets gradually perfected to a sweet, simmering, and in a couple cases, cuddly friendship — miraculously without me ever getting my tits licked, which is all I really want, really. That and maybe a little something to eat.
Over pomegranate chicken and eggs at Aram’s in Petaluma my date says, “You know, I’m not a nonviolent person.”
It takes everything I have, but I manage not to climb across the table and bite her, toppling everything. Deep breaths help, plus I derive farmerly strength from the suspicion that suddenly cullinizing one’s date, no matter how heartfelt or sexy, would be disrespectful to the chicken, which was amazing.
Over spicy Thai cold-medicine soup at that place on Haight, she wonders with the humble self-awareness of a death-bedded grandmother (and a stuffy nose) whether she might not yet know her own heart.
This week she turns 29.
Coffee and French toast at the Squat and Gobble, and I can still be a witch if I want, no matter that I don’t believe in magic or spells or sorcery or goddesses or witchcraft or even eating children — although I’m not entirely a noncannibalistic person, consent withstanding.
If I understand her correctly, even in prepagan times, even before there was the word witch, there were strong, wise, weird women who lived in shacks in the woods with black cats and wrote restaurant reviews for their local weeklies.
In my shack in my woods we are eating her-made beet gnocchi with me-made fresh bread and salad, drinking wine and talking about lasagna, when she sets down her fork and says, “I’m so happy I could cry.” And she does, and I get to hug and hold her and totally empathize because lasagna makes me emotional too.
But it turns out that wasn’t it for her. It was the first few bars of the Paolo Conti album I’d just put on.
Oh oh oh oh oh, there are so many wonderful new favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, many of which I would love to tell you about, but this is for those who have written or asked or simply wondered what ever happened to that Queer Girl Nancy Drew, my Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Inspirer of Piles and Piles of Poetry who Tartined me over a month or so ago.
Well, the reason I haven’t written about her is because I can’t decide what her name is, not because we haven’t been hanging out. We eat a lot and talk a lot and even smooch and snuggle some, but no, no sex. Not that I would tell you if there was. (But you know I would, because I tell you everything, right?)
Anyway, this isn’t like that, as the saying goes. It’s not about sex, and you’re not going to believe this, but it’s not about food either with her. With her, between me and you, all I really want is to get her on the other side of a Ping-Pong table — since another thing I learned when she first opened her heart to me (curry goat, Penny’s, Berkeley) is that her grandfather is Ping-Pong champion of the Baltic states and that she trained as a kid.
She knows how I feel. I know how she feels. We talk about everything in the world but this. Is her reticence regarding playing Ping-Pong with me based on fear of winning or losing or something else?
In bed she says she’s starstruck and falls asleep with a smile on her lips and my hand in her hair. The moon between the redwood branches outside my window is what I’m looking at, until eventually I get out of bed, tiptoe to my file cabinet, and so so so so slowly open the third drawer, the one labeled THE MEANING OF LIFE. I’m starstruck. I take out my two nice Butterfly Ping-Pong paddles, hold one in each hand, and just hold them, so happy I could cry.
Of their own accord (or maybe it’s a trick of the tears), the two paddles almost seem to be fluttering toward each other, their motion barely perceptible. If I stay to see it happen, I might be up all night, and in any case their eventual connection would be at this rate noiseless, not likely to wake anyone or put anyone to sleep.
Lost in thought and moonlight, thinking witchy not-witchy things like waves and particles, I stare between the butterflies at my file cabinet, one in the morning.
PHILOSOPHY, THEOLOGY, AND ETHICS, says the first drawer. Inside: empty egg cartons.
CEREAL, says the second. Inside: cereal. SFBG